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Hydrangea - The "Old Money" Plant
By Amanda Whatley Owen
web posted May 29, 2018
GARDENING - Being raised in South Carolina, I have always loved walking through old southern gardens.  Seeing all the varieties of old, colorful, graceful plants.  I have yet to come upon one of those gardens without seeing a beautiful Hydrangea, or old money plant, as it's sometimes called. These Hydrangeas usually come with a story on different techniques used to maintain the bursting blooms color. Big Leaf Hydrangeas are the most common types seen in these gardens. There are also Hardy Hydrangeas, climbing ones, as well as wild ones, which, are more common toward the mountains. 

The Big Leaf Hydrangeas come in an assortment of colors, which can be adjusted by it's grower.  A majority of hydrangea lovers have Blue Hydrangeas.  In order to maintain that beautiful ocean blue they need lots of aluminum.  Aluminum Sulfate can be added to your soil if your soil is lacking aluminum.  You can also add fertilizers such as 25-3-30, with high potassium which, is very helpful. Just be sure to avoid superphosphate and bone meal.  Organic matter from the compost pile is also a great resourceful way as well. 

If your blooms are producing tints of purple, your soil is super acidic.  I personally love the soft, blush pink hydrangea blooms, which doesn't come easy to some gardeners. In Asia if you were given a pink hydrangea by someone, that meant you were their heartbeat.  Hydrangeas producing pink blooms do not want any aluminum in their soil, and love lime.  Use fertilizers with high levels of phosphorus.  A lot of folks suggest that growing the hydrangea in a pot at this point makes it so much easier to maintain the needs of a pink producing hydrangea.  The number one thing to remember when adding any chemical to any plant is be sure the plant is well hydrated, to ensure there are no chemical burns or damage.    

A pruning tip for the hydrangea is, if there are blooms coming up on old wood from last season, let the stem finish blooming then you can cut the stem out.  Most, including myself, are not fans of the tall wooden stick sticking out from the plant.  When fall comes, however, you can cut back, and freely shape your hydrangea plant. 

Throughout the year, remember the four D's…damaged, diseased, dead, and dying plant material.  If your hydrangea, or any plant, has one of these four, be sure to address it right away and cut it out.

Propagating hydrangeas is fairly common among gardeners.  Start with a thick green stem, with no blooms, about the same diameter as a pencil.  Cut about two inches below the leaf node, where the leaf sprouts from the branch.  Remove all except the top two leaves.  Then, cut those leaves in half.  This reduces the circulation path for the water, and helps concentrate the flow to the stem where it can focus on building it's root system.  You can use a rooting hormone, but it is not required for the success of the propagating.  

Hydrangeas, not only produce in old south gardens but, they produce all over the world.  Originating from Japan, there are only about 70 species of hydrangeas.   Hydrangeas are also a must have floral favorite in weddings.  Their white blooms take easily to floral spray paint.  One key thing to remember when using a hydrangea in a floral arrangement, soak the entire flower bloom and all in water before using in an arrangement.  The blooms, as well as the stem of this water-loving flower absorb water all over the plant.  This trick is helpful especially in arrangements because the hydrangea is typically the first flower that is dried and brown due to need of water.  

Next week In Mandys Friendly Garden, we’ll talk about when, and how much, water you plant needs.

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